TIME nature

Minnesota Man Fights Off 525-Pound Bear With a 5-Inch Knife

Asian black bear standing in the forest (Ursus thibetanus)
Asian black bear standing in the forest (Ursus thibetanus) I.JESKE—De Agostini/Getty Images

"It's just going to town on my hand and I just keep stabbing"

A Minnesotan hunter claims to have survived a bear attack by fending off the 525-pound animal with a 5-inch knife.

Brandon Johnson told USA Today that he was tracking a black bear that his friend had shot in a densely forested hunting ground earlier in the day. It was nightfall by the time the bear had caught Johnson off guard. The bear charged, knocking him unconscious. But Johnson awoke moments later and fought back with his hunting knife, he said.

“It’s just going to town on my hand and I just keep stabbing it and stabbing it and stabbing away and I am screaming and yelling,” Johnson told USA Today.

The bear left and charged him on three separate occasions, until Johnson says he stabbed the knife into its open mouth.

He survived with extensive injuries and a slew of medical bills. His friends have set up a fundraising website with the goal of raising $10,000 to help defray the costs.

Read more at USA Today.

 

TIME Environment

The Real Wilderness of Wild: A Brief History of the Pacific Crest Trail

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Hikers cross Agnew Meadows on the Pacific Crest Trail in California. Danita Delimont — Getty Images/Gallo Images

The path that Reese Witherspoon walks in her latest film took 60 years to become a reality

Wild, a film based on Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir, in theaters Dec. 5, tells the tale of a woman wandering over more than 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. And that means one of star Reese Witherspoon’s most important co-stars is the trail itself.

Today there are more than 1,000 official national trails that sprawl across America like a nervous system. But in the beginning there were just two: the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. The latter, spanning about 2,650 miles of America’s West Coast, from Mexico to Canada, was the dream of a fellow named Clinton Clarke. In 1932, the avid hiker formally proposed a border-to-border trail connecting the peaks of the Pacific Coast, to preserve and protect America’s “absolute wilderness” before it was overrun by “motor cars” and industry.

“In few regions of the world—certainly nowhere else in the United States,” he later wrote in 1945, “are found such a varied and priceless collection of the sculptured masterpieces of Nature as adorn, strung like pearls, the mountain ranges of Washington, Oregon and California.” The Pacific Crest Trail, he said, “is the cord that binds this necklace.”

Clarke’s hero, and cause, was the explorer who would pitch his or her tent in the mountains night after night, desperate to hear the snowfall and see nothing brighter than the stars, seeking a “simpler and more natural life.” He believed that the “PCT” wasn’t just some track of dirt, but a means of forging “sturdy bodies,” “sound minds,” “permanent endurance,” “moral stamina” and “patriotic citizenship.” (As if it needed to be mentioned, Clarke was a dedicated Boy Scout.)

Clarke wasn’t the only person to dream of such a trail, but he was the most organized. To further the cause, he put together a whole federation of hiking clubs and youth groups dedicated to the project, known the Pacific Crest Trail System Conference. For years, he oversaw the massive task of scouting and constructing a route through the wilderness, connecting existing trails by building new ones, all while avoiding as much settled area as possible. Clarke served as the president of the conference for 25 years, which included big-name members like the Sierra Club, YMCA and photographer Ansel Adams. For this, he earned his place in history as the “father” of the trail.

The Pacific Crest Trail officially became the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail in 1968, 11 years after Clarke died at the age of 84. The popularity of hiking had been growing and, as of 1963, America had a President and First Lady who were very interested in preserving the outdoors: Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. Johnson proposed the study of a national system of trails, which would give the federal government a way to establish and oversee footpaths that weren’t on federal land. The volunteers who oversaw the Appalachian Trail were anxious for that kind of mandate, worried that handshake agreements allowing hikers to pass through private lands might otherwise dry up.

People like the Department of the Interior’s Daniel M. Ogden, who recounts the political battle for establishing a national system of trails in a 40th anniversary newsletter, pushed Congress to pass a bill based on the study Johnson requested. And Oct. 2, 1968, Johnson signed a “conservation grand slam” of four environmental measures: the National Trails System Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the Redwood National Park Act, and the North Cascades National Park Act. The only two national scenic trails at the time, which require an act of Congress to be designated, were the Appalachian and the Pacific Crest.

By 1972, a council created by the government had come up with a final route for the trail that Clarke had imagined 40 years earlier. After years of construction and negotiation with private property owners, the trail was completed in 1993 with a “golden spike” ceremony reminiscent of the transcontinental railroad. That was also the year that the non-profit Pacific Crest Trail Association forged a partnership with the federal government to oversee and keep up the trail.

Many people have since completed the whole-hog, end-to-end trek. Others, like Cheryl Strayed, have settled for three-month, 1,100-mile adventures. So long as the hikers come out a little different on the other side, they should all be satisfying Clarke’s wish for what the trail would be. “It is simply a ‘track worn through the wilderness,'” he wrote in 1945, “for hardy adventurers who can enjoy the experience and benefits of a friendly struggle with Mother Nature.”

TIME space

All That Glitters: 15 Breathtaking Photos of Meteor Showers

Geminids and Leonids and Perseids, oh my!

Not all meteor showers are created equal. Some are cosmic nor’easters; some are mere drizzles. This year’s edition of the Leonid meteor shower, beginning Nov. 17, will, alas, be more of the latter—and there’s a simple cosmic explanation for that.

The annual sky show is the work of Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which makes a single loop through the solar system once every 33.5 years, leaving a trail of dust and other debris in its path. Once a year, Earth moves through that wake, and the cometary bits streaking through the atmosphere are what we see as a meteor shower. When the comet passed by recently, the debris trail is denser and the fireworks are greater.

That was the case in 1966, when tens of thousands of meteors rained down per hour. Things were a little spottier, but still still pretty exciting from 1999 to 2002, when there were thousands of flashes every hour. And now? Expect no more than 10 to 15, since Tempel-Tuttle is at its greatest distance from the sun—about 1.8 billion mi (2.9 billion km) away.

Still, if you’ll take whatever meteors you can get, peak viewing times in North America will be from midnight to dawn on the nights of Nov. 17 and Nov. 18. Look in the direction of the constellation Leo—which is how the shower got its name. A NASA livestream, beginning at 7:30 PM EST on the 17th will also be tracking things as they happen—or in this quiet year, kind of don’t happen.

TIME Autism

Major Autism Studies Identify Dozens of Contributing Genes

Researchers collaborate on two large studies identifying the genetic basis of autism

Two new studies exploring the genetic basis of autism tie mutations in hundreds of genes to the disease.

Several teams of researchers collaborated on the studies, both published in the journal Nature, and found that about 60 of the genes are considered “high confidence,” meaning there’s a 90% chance that mutations within those genes contribute to risk for autism. Both studies show through genomic sequencing that many of these mutations are de novo, meaning that parents do not have the gene mutation, but they present spontaneously just before a child is conceived in either the sperm or egg.

It’s long been believed that autism is genetic, but a lack of large studies and advanced genomic sequencing has precluded any sort of consensus about what genes might be at play. But in the last couple years, scientists have been able to look at the genetic mutations in hundreds of people with autism and identify genes that likely factor into a child’s development of the disorder. In the two new studies, scientists were able to expand their work and look at thousands of people.

In one of the studies, several institutions used data from the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC), which is a collection of DNA samples from 3,000 families. In each of the families, one individual had autism. The researchers compared the gene sequences of the individual with autism to their unaffected family members. After analysis, they estimated that de novo mutations contribute to autism in at least 27% of families, where only one member has the disorder.

The other study, by researchers at 37 different institutions as part of the Autism Sequencing Consortium, looked at 14,000 DNA samples of parents with affected children. It found 33 genes the researchers say definitely increase risk for autism, should there be a mutation.

Even though there may be hundreds or even thousands of genes that contribute to a child’s risk of developing autism, the researchers on both studies found that the mutations appear to converge on a much smaller number of biological functions, like nerve-cell communication or proteins known to cause inherited disability. “In my view, the real importance of these studies is not diagnosis, and it’s not figuring out exactly what percentage of people have de novo mutations, it’s about laying the foundation to transform the understanding of the biological mechanisms of autism,” says Dr. Matthew State, chair of the psychiatry department at University of California, San Francisco and a co-leader of the SSC study, as well as a senior participant on the other study.

State doesn’t believe that the findings will mean that families will one day get their genomes sequenced to spot hundreds of possible mutations. Instead, they could lay the groundwork for discovering how autism develops, and what potential treatments, or even drugs, could help fight it.

TIME Culture

Yes, You Actually Need to Know These 10 Weird Pumpkin Facts

Pumpkins
Lina Messier—Getty Images/Moment Open

Long before pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pancakes and, well, pumpkin everything, came the humble orange pumpkin. Here, some fascinating trivia you might not know about fall’s signature vegetable (er, fruit)

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

1. The Jack-o-Lantern tradition dates back centuries, when people in Ireland decorated turnips and potatoes with scary faces to frighten away a scary character named “Stingy Jack,” who, accoring to an old myth, roamed the Earth after his death, as the History Channel tells the story. Irish immigrants then brought the practice to the U.S., where it was adapted to the native pumpkins.

2. Pumpkins were first grown in Central America. They’ve grown in North America for 5,000 years, and today, about 95% of the pumpkins processed in the U.S. are grown in Illinois, according to the University of Illinois. Morton, Illinois calls itself the “Pumpkin Capital of the World” (supposedly processing 80% of the world’s canned pumpkin).

(MORE: 8 Easy Halloween Hairstyles)

3. Though the original Cinderella story dates back to about the 1st century B.C., the detail about the pumpkin turning into a carriage reportedly wasn’t added until 1697, in a French version by Charles Perrault called “Cendrillon.”

4. One cup of mashed pumpkin contains a whopping 245% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A, plus 19% of your Vitamin C and 8 percent of your iron). That’s a veritable superfood (just not in latte form—pumpkin spice lattes typically don’t include actual pumpkins, only the spice mix).

(MORE: Easy Halloween Cupcakes)

5. When it comes to baking, 2- to 8-pound varieties are your best bets for flavor and density. Save the big ones for carving.

6. The United States produces more than one billion pounds of pumpkins each year.

(MORE: Which Halloween Candy Is Healthier?)

7. A pumpkin is technically a fruit, and a member of the gourd family. Their botanical name is Cucurbita maxima, C. moschata, C. argyrosperma, and they require 75 to 100 frost-free days to grow, meaning they need to be planted by late May to early July to be ready in time for Halloween.

8. The Guinness World Record for the Heaviest Pumpkin is currently held by Ron Wallace in the United States for his 2,009-pound pumpkin, presented at the New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off at Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, Massachusetts in September 2012.

(MORE: 16 Silly Halloween Costumes for Pets)

9. The oldest pumpkin seeds date back 8,000 to 10,000 years.

10. According to the American Pie Council (yup, there is such a thing), pumpkin is America’s secondfavorite kind of pie. Nineteen percent report preferring apple pie, compared to 13% for pumpkin.

(MORE: 8 Cute Toddler Halloween Costumes)

TIME animals

This Video Shows What It’s Like to Go Hunting as a Lion in the Wilds of Africa

It's almost like it's YOUR teeth sinking into the neck of a wild buck!

Self-proclaimed “Lion Whisperer” Kevin Richardson decided to take a GoPro camera and strap it to the back of a daring lioness named Meg as she prowls through the wild plains of South Africa. He trails a few feet behind her, offering commentary (in his awesome South African accent) as she stalks her prey.

Don’t worry, the video isn’t too graphic — but it does show the lioness taking down a wild back around 2 and a half minutes in, so be aware.

(h/t io9)

TIME Outer Space

Look Up: There’s a Rare Partial Solar Eclipse Thursday

Sudan Solar Eclipse
A partial solar eclipse is seen over the Sudanese capital Khartoum on November 3, 2013. Anadolu Agency—Getty Images

Here's when to look up at the sky

As long as rainclouds aren’t obstructing the view, people across the United States will be able to look up Thursday afternoon to witness the moon cover part of the sun in a rare partial solar eclipse.

According to Weather.com, nearly all of North America, barring part of Canada and New England, will be able to see the display. Sky and Telescope has a list of when the eclipse will be visible in different major cities. The partial solar eclipse will be viewable in New York beginning at 5:49 p.m. and peaking at 6:03, though skywatchers on the west coast will get the best show — the eclipse begins in Los Angeles at 2:08 p.m. and hit its peak midway point at 3:28 p.m. local time.

Here’s a map that tracks eclipse visibility:

While there will be another partial solar eclipse Aug. 21, 2017, Business Insider reports there won’t be another that is visible to the entire country until 2023. So maybe step outside — but take precautions.

“Looking directly at the Sun is harmful to your eyes at any time, partial eclipse or no,” says Sky and Telescope’s Alan MacRobert. “The only reason a partial eclipse is dangerous is that it prompts people to gaze at the Sun, something they wouldn’t normally do. The result can be temporary or permanent blurred vision or blind spots at the center of your view.”

[Sky and Telescope]

TIME photography

See Breathtaking Aerial Views of Fall Foliage

Autumn is here, and photographers everywhere are capturing the changing colors of the season. Poland-based photographer Kacper Kowalski captured the most unique views of all, opting to shoot his country’s fall foliage by paraglider (and sometimes gyroplane), creating these magnificent images of the landscape.

“I fly alone as the pilot and photographer,” Kowalski told TIME. “I use a regular reportage camera in my hand. [In this] way I can have control over the image, I can decide by myself where, how and when I will fly to take the image.”

The pictures are part of a larger body of work by Kowalski where he has captured both rural and urban parts of Poland over several years. “I work and live in Gdynia in the northern part of Poland . . . very close to Gdansk at the Baltic sea. The landscape is very rich. And the nature. It is absolutley amazing. Because of the climate in this geographical location it is different each week.”

You can see more of Kowalski’s work and read more about his process here.

TIME Internet

29 Colorful Instagrams That Perfectly Capture the Essence of Fall

So much foliage.

Isn’t there something so magical about fall, something that just makes you want to sip a pumpkin spice latte in a meadow? Though many regions are still a few weeks away from Peak Leaf, plenty of deep reds, bright yellows and vivid oranges have already popped up around the world. And, of course, dedicated photographers have made sure to document these changing colors on Instagram using the hashtag #foliage.

Here, a look at some of the best #foliage photos we’ve seen so far. (Note: we did not account for the fact that some of these photos are heavily filtered. Nature is incredible, yes, but keep in mind that sometimes nature is even more incredible when you really up the contrast.)

Beautiful day. #cemetery #foliage #newengland

A photo posted by @littlegreenghouls_ on

As much as I miss California, the East Coast sure does #fall right… #foliage #colors #MA

A photo posted by @kait_manighalam on

Fall series 2014 #fall #autumn #foliage #trees #Gettysburg #GettysburgCollege #campus #college

A photo posted by hakim mohandas amani williams (@drhakimwill) on

#fall #foliage #newengland

A photo posted by Chuck Amaru (@csamaru) on

Good bye #Aspen it's been #amazing I ❤️Aspen , till next time #AspenTrees #colorado

A photo posted by Art Abenoza (@artabenoza) on

You say #fall, I say #autumn. 🍁🍂

A photo posted by Laissez Fare (@laissezfare) on

Perfect fall day🍂🍃🍁 #fall #fallfoliage #leaves #trees #autumn #nature #foliage #landscape

A photo posted by Dorothee (@no9.dream) on

Stunnah! Took the afternoon to hike Mt. Agamenticus and boy is it gorgeous! 🍁👍🍂#foliage #hiking #yorkmaine #fall #207 #woohoo!

A photo posted by Seacoast 💙 NH + ME (@seacoasttourguide) on

I found it that way. Not that it matters.

A photo posted by Mariah (@caprimariah) on

Fall foliage

A photo posted by Halvard (@frequenttraveler) on

Fall Colors

A photo posted by Michael Bleggi (@able1707) on

www.jamespettitphotography.com Acadia Photography Workshop #acadia #maine #fall #jamespettitphotography #ANP #coastalmaine #foliage #nationalpark #seascape #bassharbor #lighthouse #birch #trail #ocean #downeast #jamespettitphotography From 1915 to 1933, the wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. financed, designed, and directed the construction of a network of carriage trails throughout the park. He sponsored the landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, with the nearby family summer home Reef Point Estate, to design the planting plans for the subtle carriage roads at the Park (c.1930).[9] The network encompassed over 50 miles (80 km) of gravel carriage trails, 17 granite bridges, and two gate lodges, almost all of which are still maintained and in use today. Cut granite stones placed along the edges of the carriage roads act as guard rails of sort and are locally known as "coping stones" to help visitors cope with the steep edges. They are also fondly called "Rockefeller's teeth".

A photo posted by James Pettit Photography (@jimpettit) on

Loved seeing all the beautiful #fallcolor in MN this weekend! 🐶🍁

A photo posted by Natalie LaBelle (@natlabs) on

#foliage

A photo posted by Krystal Elizabeth (@livelikeawarrior17) on

The colorful side of Autumn ❤️

A photo posted by Christina (@mrsberryde) on

Ricker Hill Orchard: Turner, ME.

A photo posted by Alexa King Photography (@alexakingphoto) on

Dogs love Autumn. #golden #retriever #fall #foliage #outdoors #color #dogsofIG

A photo posted by @reganmatthews on

1) Autumn Leaves – It was gorgeous hiking in the North Cascades today! #pnwscavengerhunt

A photo posted by Spenser (@brambleman) on

Looking up!

A photo posted by tanyalias (@tanyalias) on

 

TIME viral

This Is the Awesome Sound You’ll Hear When You Skip Stones on a Frozen Lake

It's probably not what you'd expect

Cory Williams, who runs a YouTube channel all about life in Alaska, made a very interesting discovery lately: skipping rocks on a mostly frozen lake leads to a surprisingly cool sonic experience (skip to 3:45 in the video to hear). Williams was totally not expecting the sound, which is kind of like a laser or some kind of chirping bird. Watch as he gets really, really excited about this revelation and then searches for more stones so he can hear the sound again.

Though this experience was new to Williams, several other people have tried it and had similar results:

Read next: This Woman Can Sing Two Notes at Once and It’s Eerily Beautiful

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